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Pill seller’s plea leads to jail time

HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona man accused last year of selling fentanyl pills made to look like a less powerful pain pill has been sentenced to a minimum of 4 1/2 years in prison.

But 56-year-old Gerald E. Friley is a candidate for the state’s Risk, Recidivism and Reduction program, according to his sentencing order signed by Blair County Judge Jolene G. Kopriva. So if Friley remains eligible, his minimum prison time could be reduced by nine months.

Friley recently entered guilty pleas before Kopriva to charges of possession with intent to deliver, criminal use of a communications device, manufacturing a controlled substance  and related charges.

In a presentation before the judge, Assistant Public Defender David Beyer and Assistant District Attorney Ilissa Zimmerman said they reached an agreement with the recommended sentence of 4 1/2 years to a maximum 15 years in exchange for the guilty pleas, plus recognition of Friley’s eligibility for the state’s program.

Friley is also to be credited for time served.  He has been in Blair County Prison since July 20 and will be transferred to a state prison.

Altoona police arrested Friley in July after an investigation into the source of pills, which appeared to look like oxycodone but were actually fetanyl, a much stronger painkiller. The risk associated with the ruse would be addiction and overdose, police said.

Through their investigation, police were able to identify Friley as the source of the pills after he provided about 100 tablets to a police informant. In a subsequent traffic stop, police found Friley had 14 similar pills in his pocket, and he was driving with a suspended license.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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